We were struck by this article in the Manila Standard Today newspaper from the Philippines. It demonstrates what a huge international issue GSM Gateway or SIM Box fraud really is.
The interesting thing about this story is threefold:
- It demonstrates a clear connection between international telecommunications fraud and terrorist activity. Hopefully this will help to put lie to the myth that telecoms fraud is a victimless crime: whilst some people might have little sympathy for mobile operators losing revenues, it’s impossible to sympathise with the illicit gains of this activity funding the Bali bombings and other similar activities.
- It shows the scale of the problem. The article quotes a figure for operator losses of $3 billion per annum. It’s hard to put that into context so the more pertinent figure comes later in the article. In one scam alone, 22 million fraudulent minutes were sold for $55 million. That’s one scam, in one country. With SIM box fraud happening in almost every operator in every country globally, you begin to understand how that $3 billion figure is, if anything, an understatement.
- It also gives us a view as to why SIM box fraud continues, even after more than 10 years. To catch and convict the fraudsters requires international co-operation: across governments; law enforcement agencies and the judicial system. That is not a simple thing to achieve, particularly to convince busy police forces that they can help to reduce international criminal activity through their own actions on the ground.
As the fraudsters get smarter, so the need for anti-fraud detection and elimination become more important. The mobile operators have to do all they can to eliminate SIM box fraud and continue to raise the issue at the highest levels of government – not only to protect their own revenues but, more importantly, to protect the public from the illicit gains made by telecoms fraud.